Matteo Salvini earlier this month at the headquarters of the General Union of Labor trade union in Rome. Photo: Tiziana Fabi / AFP
The current administration will “keep going for five years, despite the “ratings agencies and European Commissioners,” Salvini told reporters.
“We are here to solve the problems of the Italians, not bring down the government or let ourselves be intimidated by the ratings agencies, which have made glaring mistakes in the past — and which are wrong again this time,” he said.
“Italy is a solid country, its outlook is stable, the experts tell me that is what counts,” Salvini added.
On Friday, Moody's cut Italy's credit rating by a notch from “Baa2” to “Baa3”. It cited concerns about Italy's plans for larger deficits and the high public debt load as the country's populist government clashes with Brussels over its budget.
Late Thursday, the European Commission formally warned Italy that its budget 2019 plans were a serious concern, calling for “clarifications” by Monday noon.
The coalition government of Salvini's far-right League party and the Five Star movement (M5S) was to meet Saturday to discuss its budget. At the heart of the concerns is Italy's public debt, which amounts to 2.3 trillion euros, or 131 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That is the highest rate in the eurozone after Greece.
Brussels has demanded Italy cut spending and reduce its public deficit in order to pare down its debt pile.